Uvalde Teacher Feels Abandoned by School District After Shooting
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Uvalde Teacher Feels Abandoned by School District After Shooting

Jan 17, 2024

Arnulfo Reyes, one of the surviving teachers from the Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde, Texas, has spoken out about the treatment he received from the school district in the shooting's wake.

Reyes, who went through 11 different surgeries after the shooting on May 24, 2022, says he feels abandoned by the school district.

Even after undergoing a procedure to get a titanium rod that connects his elbow and wrist after a bullet to his arm shattered his bone, he claims he has barely heard from anyone associated with the district.

Despite the initial wave of support from the community in the weeks following the shooting, Reyes says his contact with the school district is now nearly nonexistent.

Reyes didn't hear from former Superintendent Hal Harrell for an entire month following the shooting. When he finally reached out, Reyes refused the call.

"He had a whole month to visit me," the teacher told NBC News.

Today I met with Arnulfo Reyes and Nichole Ogburn— both teachers and survivors of last year's Robb Elementary shooting in Uvalde. As a father with children in school, I believe we have an ironclad obligation to protect our students and educators from these types of tragedies. pic.twitter.com/op0Bgj4XLn

The current superintendent, Gary Patterson, is similarly elusive in contacting Reyes. The teacher said he's heard from Patterson twice over the last year.

"They’ve never really given support," Reyes said. "They just forgot us."

For months after the shooting, angry parents, classmates, and relatives attended school board meetings demanding changes in leadership and policy. Many families criticized the district for attempting to silence the parents for speaking out against the district.

Here's a video of the most heated confrontations during a board meeting. The video was taken directly after the Texas Department of Public Safety released its official report on the response.

The district even banned some parents from coming onto school property or attending future meetings. Additionally, tension between parents and board members grew when the district renewed the contracts of employees criticized for handling communication with parents poorly during the shooting.

Reyes also had to make an important decision. Either sue the school district or take part in a civil claim against shooter Salvador Ramos and his family, as well as all companies involved with any products used to aid officers during the response to the shooting. He chose the latter.

Reyes hopes to get a $1 million settlement from the civil claim but may ask for more as his medical bills pile up. However, Reyes thinks these changes are already long overdue and have been for some time. He's not hopeful for the future, though.

"I don't think they’ll change, unfortunately," he said.

Reyes mostly keeps to himself these days. He told NBC News he shops early in the morning to avoid crowds and sometimes refuses to see close friends and family members.

Although he spoke to multiple news outlets in the months following the shooting, he no longer likes to do interviews. Instead, he focuses his efforts on working to make changes for future generations of students in Uvalde.

Elsa Avila and Arnulfo Reyes are teachers that protected the children in their classrooms during the #UvaldeMassacre. They are hospitalized due to the assault weapon wounds they received.Where is the praise for these two heroes that were braver than the police? pic.twitter.com/snmnZvACUf

Reyes often stays home with his dog and tries his best not to think much about the what-ifs of that day. He often wonders if there was more for him to do in that moment, but tries to use his memory of the children as a motivator instead.

"I try to keep myself busy with little projects, just trying to change my mindset to think about the happy times I had with them — how they acted, how they talked," he said. "Sometimes it does beat me. I sob and try to let it out," he added.

The teacher notes he speaks only to grocery store employees and doctors consistently. Even though he's doing what he can to put that day behind him, the lack of response from the district still surprises him.

"I thought they would have been more caring, more compassionate," Reyes said. "I feel like I never even worked for them like I’m nobody. I’m nobody to them."

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